A Dog’s Life

Upon the increased spreading of stray dogs, who are considered to be sometimes carriers of diseases and others a vicious source of fear, some municipalities see shooting them down with arms as a solution, while Kais Ben Farhat chose to shoot with his Camera.
Written by | 30 January 2023 | reading-duration 10 minutes

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It was not long before the last rays of the sun had left the streets of the Belvedere that the parks command returned to its guards, the dogs. It also means that passersby under the cover of darkness are exposed to the gaze of these animals, sometimes curious and others aggressive. It may also happen that dogs are not satisfied with mere observation. "It happened that the dogs ran after me during my jogsin the park," says a resident of the area.

In other places, dogs decide to go on strolls in broad daylight, individually or in packs, and do not wait for the stillness of the night to take control of the territory. The relationship between dogs and humans is an oscillating relationship between fear and kindness, so some avoid it and may flee in alarm, while others approach it with food and shelter.

Many dogs have chosen Salambo beach as their address, and they share the place with residents of the neighborhood and others who came to enjoy the sea. The interactions between animals and humans differ: some feed them, others run away when they bare their fangs. Suburb of Tunis, 2021.

In Manouba, a dog lies down near a garbage collector who takes a share of rest in front of a cup of coffee in a cafe. Manouba 2022. 

This is the case for the Animal Protection Association of Tunisia (PAT). "We heal them, feed them, and sterilize them," explains Sarra Zaoui, a member of the association based in Raoued. As part of her work as a volunteer for the association, Sarah has noticed a rise in the number of stray dogs in the capital and neighboring towns.

Although it is difficult to quantify this phenomenon, it poses an undoubted danger to public health. "In Tunisia, an average of 4 deaths per year over the past six years have been counted" due to rabies, according to the website of the National Committee for rabies resistance, and continues, "the virus is often transmitted to humans through dogs". Faced with this problem, many municipalities resort to a radical solution in the form of shooting them down.

"Instead of mobilizing resources to kill dogs, we try to explain to the municipalities that this budget can be redirected towards sterilization operations," says Sarra Zaoui.

The opinion of many municipalities have already settled on this new approach, as evidenced by the opening of sterilization and vaccination centers for stray dogs in Tunis, Ariana and Marsa, without missing to notice how these developments are limited for the capital and its suburbs.

Two dogs are playing in front of a sea and a mountain. Suburb of Tunis, 2021. 

Two people sitting on the beach of Kram to enjoy the sea accompanied by one of the neighborhood dogs. Suburb of Tunis, 2021.

In the darkness of the night, a pack of dogs gathers around a garbage banquet lying on the street. Manouba 2019.

In parallel, the Ministry of Agriculture proposes "annual, generalized and free" vaccination campaigns and more than 300 veterinary centers throughout the country make it possible to vaccinate animals against rabies for free, outside the campaign periods. All this is aimed at curbing the spread of the rabies virus.

However, the opinion that it is necessary to take care of these animals does not have the unanimity of all citizens. Some "only have a phobia of dogs" and "put pressure on municipalities to tip the murder scale" as Sarra Zaoui, who was present at several municipal meetings, informed us. The volunteer says that such people do not realize that the results of the sterilization and vaccination program can only be witnessed after several years. Therefore, she admits, "these programs should have been developed earlier".

On the way to Rafraf, a shepherd takes advantage of the dogs' preoccupation with barking at the cameraman to sneak up a drainage canal in the middle of empty land. Ariana Governorate, 2021.

A dog stands in the middle of an old slum, near the town of Zriba at the foot of Mount Zaghouane. Zaghouane, 2016.

Manouba, Sprols district. Karim is trying to take care of the neighborhood dogs that he rounded up at one of the closed leather factories in the area. Nevertheless, in the absence of medical care, dogs usually die from illness, so Karim hopes that the municipality will give them the necessary care. 2022.

The corpse of a dead dog is on the edge of the road. The photographer's opinion, according to what he noticed, is that he was run over by a car. Ariana governorate, 2021.

A little girl takes a picture of a dog with her mobile phone in the Belvedere Park where dogs take over the place at nightfall. Residents claim dogs have attacked them, but the photographer deplores seeing humans throwing stones at animals. Tunisia, 2021.

In Sidi Thabet to the north of the capital, the Animal protection association (PAT) receives stray dogs and puts them in dens to treat, receive and sterilize them. Ariana governorate, 2022.

A man feeds a dog in the Belvedere Park, Tunis 2021.

During the general lockdown, which was decided at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, urban spaces were empty for dogs. This dog in Manouba got some food from the residents of the area. Manouba, 2020.

The dog made friends with the garbage collector, so he always follows him on garbage collection trips. Manouba, 2022.